Cooks Illustrated crowns the best supermarket hummus! »
It’s a good thing Thomas Jefferson didn’t include hummus in the Declaration of Independence, because all hummus sure as hell isn’t created equal.
Cooks Illustrated, a magazine for OCD people (to which I would 100 percent subscribe if it had a vegetarian edition), recently did us the favor of running a taste test on supermarket hummus. Let the results be service to vegans everywhere.
The winner happens to be my favorite: Sabra. Back in the day, my now-husband used to fly sackfuls of this creamy manna from his Jew-heavy hometown in South Florida to our hummus-bare northern Utah residence. It’s that good. Luckily you can even buy it at some Costcos now, in tubs big enough to drown your sorrows in.
The two other brands Cooks Illustrated deems edible:
Cedar’s All Natural
The more you know!
Raw, chickpea-free hummus by Michelle Saunders for D Magazine! Dallas does veggies!
[photo by Michelle Saunders for D Magazine]
Product review: Bagel Spice! »
I was at the NYCVFF, perusing the tables, when one of the vendors very kindly offered me a free bottle of Bagel Spice. I wasn’t particularly interested in said Bagel Spice—I was just standing in its vicinity, eyeballing the Bee Free Honee.
I have a pretty extensive spice rack so my attitude was sort of, “Who needs you, Bagel Spice?” Plus it seemed sort of confusing. The website describes it like this:
Bagel Spice is a scrumptious blend of premium spices inspired by the “Everything Bagel.” It’s a delicious accompaniment to a variety of savory dishes.
Honestly, I wasn’t even sure what to put it on. But the company seemed awful charming, and the ingredient list is totally au natural—all very real and whole foods go into this product—so I figured I should give it a whirl.
Initially I went for the obvious and put it on a delicious toasted bagel with some tofutti cream cheese. I have to say that it was very very good. Like surprisingly good. I want it on all of my bagels now.
It’s quite yummy mixed in with hummus as well. That’s how they were serving samples of it up at the NYCVFF, and it was totally good. The original Bagel Spice has no salt, but they make another blend with sea salt, as well as a spicy one, so you have options. What I like about the hummus concept is that I usually like to buy plain hummus, but then sometimes I wish I had a flavored one. Bagel Spice to the rescue! It’s a nice addition to some hummus, and you don’t have to commit to a whole container of the flavored stuff.
The third thing I did with the Bagel Spice was use it as a dry seasoning to make seitan nuggets. (I used the nugget recipe from Jenny’s nugget post—it’s great!) This is what ultimately made me a big Bagel Spice fan. These nuggets turned out awesome, and the Bagel Spice was an essential addition of zest. I used the no-sodium original, so it wasn’t too salty or overly spicy; it just added a ton of gusto. There’s some nice chunkiness with the dried onions and poppy seeds too, which added a great crispy texture on the outside.
It is definitely an awesome addition to any breading you’re making that requires a dry spice. I will probably use it in this capacity most. I’m also gonna suggest that it would be fabulous on a tofu scramble, garlic bread, salads, etc. You could even make some wicked fast pasta by tossing it in a little olive oil then sprinkling on some Bagel Spice. The possibilities are endless!
Bottom line, I am super impressed with Bagel Spice. They totally converted me from an uninterested skeptic to someone who will definitely keep this on hand. It’s tasty and versatile, and dang it, I like it.
You can order Bagel Spice via its website** and it’s also available in a few stores. If you try it and like it, ask your favorite stores to carry it. I’m all about pestering stores to carry things I like. I’m pretty sure my friend Michael is solely responsible for Fresh Direct carrying Daiya. The squeaky wheel, people: It gets the grease.
**This is totally not a vegan company, and there are pictures of eggs and chicken wings on their website. Their whole recipe section is disappointing. However, they do seem to exclusively produce Bagel Spice, and they’re certified kosher, so I’m assuming their facility is meat- and dairy-free.
Laura Yasinitsky is a writer, comic, waitress, and animal-lover based in New York City. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s Open-Mic Fight, and writes for US Weekly’s Fashion Police. You can follow her silliness on Twitter @LaraYaz, and read about her animal-friendly adventures here.
Make this: Slate’s peanut butter hummus! »
My ma sent me this recipe from Slate last week, all excited, and honestly, I was skeptical. Hummus with peanut butter? Nonsense.
But the author does make an excellent point about peanut butter being more affordable than tahini, and I also feel like smoked paprika is a genius ingredient from heaven, and beyond everything else hummus is way super-easy to make, so why not?
Results: Delicious, slightly pinkish-brownish, rich, creamy, tasty hummus. Highly recommended. You probably have all the ingredients right now! If you don’t have smoked paprika, get some immediately: It’s inexpensive and adds a dimension of taste to your foods you’ll hate yourself for missing.
Peanut butter hummus! It’s what’s for EVERY MEAL FOREVER.
[photo by Olga Vasiljeva via Flickr]
It’s hummamole, from Robin Robertson’s Quick-Fix Vegan! This is the fifth recipe I’ve made from that cookbook, and I really like it. The recipes are fast and delicious and not terribly difficult, which is good because when I want a fast recipe it’s because I’m hungry and/or pressed for time, and starving, hurried people are not the most careful cooks, you know? These dishes have so far been much tastier than complicated to prepare, which makes me really love them.
Presently I work one full-time job with a 2.5-hour (one-way, kill me) commute, and two part-time no-commute jobs, and I’m nearly broke, so cooking a lot, cheaply and quickly, is really important to me. I eat a lot of vegetables, legumes, and tofu, and I try to cook almost everything over the weekend, so I can just throw stuff in/take stuff out of containers for my lunches and dinners during the week. Now the weather’s getting cool, I especially like soups and casseroles, because they taste better as they age (to a point! duh!) and they are easy to make lots of and divide.
If you want to make your own hummamole (and you do!), get the recipe here!
Squatters Pub Brewery: vegan surprise in SLC! »
I did some aeroplane-travel last week and had more than one layover in Salt Lake City, Utah, known mainly for Mormons and, I guess, the Great Salt Lake. So imagine my surprise when, during my famished, jet-lagged stagger through the Delta terminal, I stumbled upon Squatters Pub Brewery, an establishment featuring craft beers and oodles of vegan options! Never mind the beer, I would come here again just for the food!
On the way to my very exotic, secret destination, I ordered the Tofu Scrambler (comes with a bagel!). Although it came in a cardboard tray reminiscent of TV dinners, it tasted amazing, and not just because I was running on two hours of sleep. It featured tomatoes, parsley, and tasty salsa, and it wasn’t too moist or soupy, a common problem I find with restaurant tofu scrambles.
On my return trip, I went with the Fresh Veggie Wrap, which had the tofu scramble as a main ingredient. And again, it was amazing, just what the doctor ordered while recovering from a mad case of Montezuma’s revenge. I also ordered the Brewhouse Hummus with veggies AND chips (yeah, I got style), and that was yummy and healthy-feeling, although a tad heavy on the tahini.
Squatters’ (Ugh, I hate just typing the name, but it’s so worth it) menu has icons showing what can be made vegan and vegetarian as well as into what dishes you can substitute the tofu scramble. The proprietors should really look into vegan cupcakes, though.
So if you’re traveling by air and have to stop, try to make that stop in Salt Lake, and get your surprise vegan nom on!
Morty’s Deli in the Tenderloin: nice sandwiches you got there! »
First of all, I love me a nice sandwich, and I love me vegan options in SF’s Tenderloin. I also love that Morty’s Deli’s motto is “…a nice sandwich,” and its logo is a basset hound. Hilarious! Plus they have beer on tap! WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?
Morty’s is a kick-ass deli with more vegan options than the menu appears to have. You just have to ask; for example, the No. 174 can be made vegan with marinated tofu, even though the menu doesn’t say it. Tim, the handsome face behind the menu, says he recently started leaning toward veganism himself for health reasons. Go, Tim!
The vibe is coffeehouse-meets-deli, and the beer is free-flowing on weekdays till 8 p.m., so maybe look into weekend hours? The people demand beer and sandwiches on weekends!
Now I love to eat, so I ordered a whole lot. Of course, I started with a salad.
because salad is all vegans eat, AM I RIGHT?!
But on the realio, the lettuce, tomatoes, and tangy dressing were all crisp and fresh, and the homemade croutons were top-notch. (Not pictured: french fries, because I ate them too fast.)
Then came a Soy Reuben. I was super-pumped for this sandwich, maybe overly so, because sauerkraut makes me rather damp in the crotchal region.
It was tasty, even though we had to sub dijon mustard in for the Russian dressing. However, might I suggest pressing the tofu a little more? I know tofu preparation can seem formidable, but it really doesn’t taste right to me unless it’s good and dry before you marinate and cook it. Juicy seitan? Good. Juicy tempeh? Excellent. Juicy tofu? Kinda gross and floppy. However, the flavors were good, the sauerkraut (UNGFDHGFDNGFGHT) was crunchy and tart, it came on real rye bread, and I would order it again.
The winner of the day was the Garden Sandwich (order without cheese). It was super-amazing: hummus and veggies, including ARTICHOKES and avocado and greens, on an onion kaiser roll. The hummus was supremely flavorful and added just the right amount of creaminess to the crunch of the veggies. It’s a basic sandwich, but it was my favorite.
Other options: daily made-from-scratch vegan soup (and the french onion soup is vegan if you order without cheese, HUGE bonus to me), Shroomin’ Sandwich, build your own sandwich, gluten-free bread, beer, delivery (HELLO SANDWICH BUDGET), and did I mention BEER?
Another thing I like about Morty’s is you don’t have to be like, “Does this have mayonnaise on it?” or “I want that without cheese,” because you can just say, “Make it vegan” and they totally know what that means. Seriously, get in there. N.B. I tried to pay for at least some of my huge order, but Morty’s was having none of it. Thanks, Morty’s! I’ll be back, not in a Terminator kind of way.
The Vegansaurus Diet: Momzilla! »
Welcome back to the Vegansaurus Diet! This week features Louzilla’s mom, who “decided to try to eat vegan for a week while [Louzilla’s] dad was off visiting his family in Arizona. She didn’t end up doing it 100, but maybe something like 90, which is still really awesome!” It is awesome; good job, -zillas!
What does a meat-loving omnivore eat when she tries out veganism for a week?
Breakfasts: 2 cups of coffee (black) every morning. Then, after exercising, oatmeal with chopped walnuts and a cup of OJ, or occasionally some peanut butter spread on toast.
Lunches: Usually leftovers from dinner, or a peanut butter sandwich–no jelly for this fruit-hater.
Saturday: I made spaghetti with “wheatballs” from Robin Robertson’s Vegan on the Cheap. Topped with Newman’s Own marinara sauce and rounded out with a side of steamed kale.
Sunday: We went to the grocery store and picked up some rosemary artisan bread and veggies. I sliced and pan-fried onions, red bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant and tossed it all with a dash of balsamic vinaigrette. Spread some homemade hummus on each slice of bread and put it all together while Mom made a side of oven-baked sweet potato fries with sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. mmm!
Monday and Tuesday: I wasn’t home for dinner these days, so no pictures, but Mom made and ate cabbage and leek soup from 1,000 Vegetarian Recipes.
Wednesday: Puttanesca. This picture is deceiving, because there are really more veggies than that but it wasn’t mixed well and they all ended up at the bottom topped with the spaghetti! I would totally link you to the recipe for this meal that we can both always agree on (and is super easy to make) if only my mom could remember where she found it!
Thursday: Again, I wasn’t home, but Mom had the rest of the leftover spaghetti & wheatballs. She just finished heating them up when our microwave of 28 years died!!
Friday: Stir fry made with leftover veggies from Sunday’s sandwiches and seitan based off this recipe, served over quinoa and with a big salad.
My two biggest celebrations from this week are that I got my mom to try hummus (which she’s always said she didn’t like) and seitan (which she’s always been leery of) and both were successful! What does she have to say about the week? She found herself craving meat, doesn’t want to give it up for good, but is still trying to decrease her consumption of it. Overall, a huge leap forward from when I first went vegetarian 5 years ago!
A Vegan in Central Europe: One week in the Holy Land! »
December 17 marked the end of my four months living in Prague (sad face), but marked the beginning of a cool weeklong journey to Israel. While all of my friends heading back to the states were dealing with this load of bullshit, I was flying almost worry-free to the Middle East. What do I think about this paradise? Yeah, lots of tension, especially in Jerusalem, but some of the BEST FUCKING FOOD YOU WILL EVER TASTE. If you ever make the trek, you need to try some authentic Middle Eastern yum-food. Some key phrases: Ani tivoni (“I’m vegan”); blee beitzim, khalavi, kharvi (“without eggs, milk, meat”).
If you make it to Jerusalem, you will probably hang out on Ben Yehuda, or at the Shuk, which means you’ll be within spitting distance of a Moshiko. BEST FALAFEL EVER. The ironic thing about eating vegan in Israel is that you’re best off going to a place with meat, because then you know that all of the veg accoutrements are parve, i.e., without dairy. You can ask about eggs with yesh beitzim? If you’re vegetarian (boo), you can probably find some good dairy eateries in the mostly kosher city. In the lovely bad boy pictured, you got the delicious fried falafel, hummus, red cabbage, tahini, spicy-ass-muhfuckin-sauce, and salat. SO FUCKING YUMMY, and it costs like ₪14 ($3.88 U.S.).
Haifa, an ancient sea port, also has much by way of delicious dining. I made it to Café Louise (the sign of the place is in Hebrew), an organically minded café in the Mount Carmel area of Haifa, very close to the Baha’i Gardens on the 23 bus. Pictured is their Indian-style sandwich, filled with roasted parsnips, yam, and cauliflower with tamari-tahini sauce, and a side-salad with balsamic dressing. The total: ₪45 ($12.50 U.S.). I also got a yummy shake made with melon, mango, coconut, soy, and originally honey—d’vash in Hebrew, so say blee d’vash for “without honey”—but they were able to substitute maple syrup in for me. It was Uhhh-mayzing with a capital U. Damn, those Israelis know how to make a good shake.
Probably my favorite city was Tel Aviv. My first time stepping into the Mediterranean was so pleasant; in December, the water is still warm enough to walk through, and the weather was about 70 F—beats the 20 F/snowing/icy in Prague! I recommend is the Dizengof and Ben Gurion instersection, accessible by the 5 bus from the new bus station. There, you’ll see a smoothie shack on the corner (YUMMMM). Go a few stores west on Dizengoff and you’ll get to this amazing all-hummus place. ALL HUMMUS. JUST HUMMUS AND PITA. They put paprika, olive oil, whole chickpeas, tahini, and lemon salt in mine, topped off with some cut parsley, for ₪22 ($6) including unlimited pita. While I couldn’t finish the whole plate for fear of exploding, I definitely got my fill. And it felt great. Sort of. Back to the shake-shack thing: YOU NEED TO GO. They have these places all over, and their shakes are entirely fruit-based and yummy as shit. I tried the coconut/pineapple/banana mix and the pineapple/banana/orange mix, and they were both awesomeasfuck. And vegan as fuck, too.
Another food-related note, regarding Israel in general. Pictured to the right is a shuk, or market. They have these in almost every major city, and they’re all great. This one is the shuk in Jerusalem; you will definitely go there if you ever visit the city. They have stalls filled with the freshest vegetables and fruits all grown locally (Israel doesn’t import for the most part), dried fruits and nuts, small coffee places, yummy juice places where you can get yummy aforementioned shakes, and even ceramic artist collectives. This is where you can attempt to haggle, taste everything you see—mostly—and experience mayhem like you’ve never experienced before. I’ve heard it gets especially crazy on Friday mornings when everyone’s trying to get their shopping done before Shabbat.
[Hebrew translations and all photos by Brianna!]
Vodka party at Gracias Madre with fat ducks and fashion kitties in this week’s link-o-rama! »
Ms. Unterman of the SF Examiner fell in love with Gracias Madre, and Jun Belen thought No Worries is doing a good job, so far. In the Sacramento Valley, a man shot a duck, and discovered she had eaten herself an extremely engorged liver—foie gras-style, in fact. Real live naturally occurring foie gras, in pintail ducks eating oodles of rice! Neat! Unfortunately it’s just not as delicious as “real” foie gras, so they’ll just have to keep gavaging those geese (until all of those selfish creeps die). Shucks.
Feeling blue? How about some vodka? Barnivore will help you choose the brand, and this magnificent guide will teach you how to drink it properly. Once it gets cold (ha ha global warming, it’ll never dip below 50, right?), let’s have vodka and spicy + salty hors d’œuvres parties. I am particularly looking forward to the part where you “[b]reathe out loudly through your mouth emitting an animal noise.” I mean. Perhaps someone could try this hummus recipe by Nick Kindelsperger of The Paupered Chef? He does make it sound amazing, and not too terribly difficult.
Peta strikes again! Ingrid Newkirk herself has offered to put $10,000 toward Lindsay Lohan’s rehab bill if LiLo will go vegan for the remainder of her rehab, and if she maintains her vegan diet for an entire year, Peta will give her another $10,000. Who feels good about donating to Peta? LiLo hasn’t taken Peta up on Ms. Newkirk’s offer yet, but YOU NEVER KNOW. But it’s not like Peta has any standards for their celebrity spokesmodels, so why not another wearer of fur and leather?
Best part of Friday: The Week in Vegan, by our Laura for SF Weekly!